Shang Chi star Simu Liu addresses Asian toxic masculinity

·3-min read
Photo credit: Albert L. Ortega - Getty Images
Photo credit: Albert L. Ortega - Getty Images

Simu Liu has addressed the subject of Asian toxic masculinity, condemning Asian diaspora men who attack Asian diaspora women.

The Shang-Chi star has been criticised and called out by some Asian Americans in the past for encouraging harmful rhetoric against Asian women in the way he would regularly discuss emasculation in Asian men.

Within the diaspora, many Asian men – speaking about how they're not seen as 'desirable' due to stereotypes – dismiss the hypersexualisation of and violence towards Asian women, while deplorably claiming that the women enjoy more privilege than the men. It leads to Asian women facing misogynistic abuse and attacks from the men.

Simu appeared on The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood Remixed podcast, hosted by Rebecca Sun, when the pair spoke about the topic.

Photo credit: Albert L. Ortega - Getty Images
Photo credit: Albert L. Ortega - Getty Images

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The actor talked about how stereotypes about Asian men had affected his self-esteem growing up, before making it clear that he does not support the behaviour by some Asian American men.

"I think there's very dangerous rhetoric that sometimes circulates around our community where you see Asian men attacking Asian women and saying, 'Well, you've got all this privilege as Asian women', because Asian women are seen as more desirable and are seen as higher on the social hierarchy," he said.

"I detest hearing that in-fighting within the community. We should be uplifting each other and sticking together, but more than that, it's not difficult to see that Asian men and Asian women both suffer from the same problem, which is that our experiences have been defined by a predominantly white gaze, and so we each experience the consequences of that and they're different."

Photo credit: Marvel Studios - Disney
Photo credit: Marvel Studios - Disney

Simu was then asked how the conversation has affected the way he sees and talks about Asian masculinity.

"There has to be a lot of nuance in my response," he replied. "I feel like this idea that, by over-correcting our emasculation we're actively celebrating toxic masculinity at its most stereotypical core – which is, these buff, tough people who don't talk about their feelings or act a certain way towards women – I feel like that's very, very valid.

"My hope – as Asian men begin to talk about masculinity, talk about the ways that they've been emasculated, and talk about our goals or how we want to develop the discourse – is that we can redefine what 'masculinity' really even means, because Asian American masculinity as a term really hasn't been around for all that long, and so why use it to describe all of the flaws of traditional masculinity?

Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

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"Why not define masculinity for ourselves in a way that is body-positive, but [also] body-positive for all types and inclusive for all gender norms and sexual preferences?

"And why not celebrate male vulnerability and being able to communicate feelings with your male friends and circles, and why not talk about respecting women and uplifting our Asian American sisters and uplifting all minority groups and being a better ally? Why not talk about those things as well?

"That's something that I very much believe in, because if it's just about abs and it's just about looking buff and shredded and trying to out-man the men, then I don't think necessarily that's a conversation I want to be a part of."

Responding to Rebecca's comment that 'trying to out-man the men' is like "jumping from one box into a different box", Simu said: "We don't like that box. That box is the reason for a lot of what's wrong in the world, so maybe we shouldn't be jumping into that box."

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is out now in the UK and US.

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